'Secret?': Duque, Dominguez to divulge vaccine prices only in Senate executive session

Published June 15, 2021, 4:24 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Department of Finance *DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Vaccine Czar Carlito G. Galvez Jr. on Tuesday reiterated their refusal to reveal the cost of COVID-29 vaccines but they intimated their estimate on how much a vaccine dose would cost.

During a hybrid public hearing by the Senate Committee of the Whole, Dominguez and Galvez said their basis is a non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement with vaccine manufacturers signed by them and the Philippine government.

The Commission on Audit may look into it, they added.

In past Senate hearings, Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) have refused to state the cost of COVID-19 vaccines because of the non-disclosure agreement with vaccine manufacturers.

Dominguez and Duque said they could tell the senators the price of a vaccine per dose but only in an executive session.

When asked by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon and Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Galvez estimated that a dose of Sinovac vaccine might cost P700 ‘’more or less.’’

Dominguez explained that they were not the ones who invented the non-disclosure agreement because it was condition of the sale agreement as it is part of the manufacturers’ trade secret.

Considering the loans to buy the vaccines and the payment of the vaccines, Dominquez estimated that a dose costs P600 which includes a P48 logistics cost.

Because of Drilon’s insistence, Dominguez said the price range of a vaccine dose could be between $6,75 to $27.59.

Drilon noted the big gap in the price range but Sotto said there are vaccines that cost low and there others that cost very high.

During the hearing, Dominguez said they might disclose to senators the cost of vaccines but senators have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Dominguez later retracted his offer and said he was sorry.

Drilon, a former Justice Secretary, said he might favor an executive session or closed door session but is against signing a non-disclosure agreement.

He stressed that he was questioning the cost because the people want to know where their taxes go and that people might suspect there is overpricing or there is corruption involved.